Woman says church turned her blind brother away because of his service dog

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    A church turned away a blind man because he was accompanied by a service dog (Credit: Facebook)A church turned away a blind man because he was accompanied by a service dog (Credit: Facebook)
    A church turned away a blind man because he was accompanied by a service dog (Credit: Facebook)

    The sister of a legally blind man is speaking out after a South Carolina church turned him away for bringing a service dog with him.

    On Sunday, Taylor Burch, 29, and his guide dog were asked to leave LowCountry Community Church in Bluffton, S.C. Tiffany Michelle, Taylor’s sister, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the church claimed the venue is unsuitable for a service animal.

    The sister said that she received a phone call on Sunday from her family, with her mother in tears and her brother distraught from his experience at the church.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="According to a Facebook post, Tiffany wrote that a man wearing a church badge took her brother aside and told him that dogs aren’t allowed on the premises, saying “churches have the right to refuse service dogs.”” data-reactid=”25″>According to a Facebook post, Tiffany wrote that a man wearing a church badge took her brother aside and told him that dogs aren’t allowed on the premises, saying “churches have the right to refuse service dogs.”

    Tiffany wrote that even though she knows that churches are “exempt from having to abide by ADA laws in regard to service dogs,” she is in “disbelief that a place that teaches love and acceptance” wouldn’t allow her brother to attend a church service.

    Tiffany says that part of the reason the church asked her brother to leave was that it’s difficult to tell whether a service animal is legitimate.

    “People with fake certificates and dogs are the problem — they caused the issue,” she said. “Service dogs have a unique behavior when they’re out, and it’s easy to tell if a dog is really a service dog.”

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Taylor Burch took to Facebook&nbsp;on Monday and posted about the incident as well, saying he was “mortified and embarrassed” when he was asked to leave.” data-reactid=”31″>Taylor Burch took to Facebook on Monday and posted about the incident as well, saying he was “mortified and embarrassed” when he was asked to leave.

    “I will not sit in a corner and be made to feel less than anyone just to attend your church,” he wrote. “You have shunned us based on your service dog policy. We don’t want to be asked to sit in the lobby or on your porch only, how degrading.”

    Taylor added that the church’s “policy needs to change for all disabled Americans.”

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="While Yahoo Lifestyle could not immediately reach LowCountry Community Church, it&nbsp;provided a statement to WSAV-TV&nbsp;on the incident.” data-reactid=”36″>While Yahoo Lifestyle could not immediately reach LowCountry Community Church, it provided a statement to WSAV-TV on the incident.

    “Allowing an unlimited number of potentially uncertified animals, with minimal venue restrictions, as the existing law requires, would be a safety risk to the approximately 2,500 people who attend events in our facility each week,” the statement reads.

    The church added that staff members offered to provide assistance to Taylor so that he could attend without the use of a service animal.

    “The young man said he would indeed return the following week without his service animal and he was assured of the ready assistance of our volunteer team. Therefore, we were surprised to learn via social media of his subsequent comments, and we share his concern over the inadequacies of the ADA Title III,” the church’s pastor, Jeff Cranston, wrote in a statement to the news station.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Able, a disability rights group in South Carolina appealed to the church, and all other organizations&nbsp;in a Facebook post to comply with the American with Disabilities Act even if they are exempt.” data-reactid=”40″>Able, a disability rights group in South Carolina appealed to the church, and all other organizations in a Facebook post to comply with the American with Disabilities Act even if they are exempt.

    “Just like hospitals are required to accommodate both individuals with service animals and people with dog allergies, churches can also find common solutions without segregating or excluding anyone,” the post reads.

    Tiffany hopes her brother’s situation helps to encourage inclusivity.

    “Disabilities come in all shapes and forms and it’s amazing what dogs can do to help these people,” she said.

    While Tiffany has reached out to LowCountry Community Church to address the situation, she says she didn’t receive an adequate response.

    <p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:” data-reactid=”47″>Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

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